What Arab Journalists Say It’s Their Job to Do

Posted on July 20, 2008. Filed under: Arab Journalism, Teaching | Tags: , , , |

Recent survey results say Arab journalist believe in their role as agents of social change

What Arab journalists say it's their job to do

A recent survey of 601 Arab journalists revealed that about three-quarters of them believe it is their job to encourage political reform. Sixty-six percent think it is their duty to educate the public, and 60 percent consider it right to use the news for social good.

The survey was conducted by Lawrence Pintak, director of the Kamal Adham Center for Journalism Training and Research at the American University in Cairo. Pintak, along with psychology professor Jeremy Ginges and graphic designer Nicholas Felton, recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about the results. The paper included a one-page PDF with the questions and response percentages along with the article on its website. While the study was intended to reveal a mindset that could be used to change Western perceptions about Arab journalists, I wonder if it might not also give Arab journalists themselves some good news?

This week, Magda Abu-Fadil of the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut is hosting its second five-day workshop in online and citizen journalism. Workshop participants are expected to come from a variety of media outlets from across the Arab world, including Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.

In the intensive course, we will cover concepts of online and citizen journalism and look at the Web 2.0 tools that are transforming news production and distribution. Then, we’ll take a look at several journalists’ blogs and the range of blogs in the Middle East and North Africa region to get an idea of how people are using these new technologies.

Next we’ll dive in to the how-to of being an online or citizen journalists, setting up blogs, learning about the range of digital file formats, and capturing and editing audio and video as part of producing our own independent multimedia packages. We’ll wrap up the week with a session on ethics and presentations of what we’ve achieved during the course, as well as get a grasp on what’s next.

It’s our belief that these days there’s no journalism that not online journalism, so it’s crucial to extend online training to as many journalists as possible, from cub reporter to veteran correspondent, so that they have an opportunity to fulfill the expectations they have for themselves and their societies. In addition, with so many nonprofessionals contributing to the conversation, we think its important to share the standards and ethics of journalism, so that professionals and nonprofessionals alike can develop the credibility for their reporting they deserve.

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